Twins and triplets look cute with their similar faces, cute smiles and matching clothes. But ask their parents, especially their mother and you will realize that twins and triplets mean exhaustion, frustration, and tears for the mother. And this starts right from pregnancy.
In his book “Twins 101: 50 Must-Have Tips for Pregnancy through Early Childhood from Doctor M.O.M,” Dr. Khanh-Van Le-Bucklin stresses to parents to aim for fairness, not equality. And in this simple advice lies the secret of raising twins and triplets.
Most parents aim for equality but things are never equal with twins because they are individuals trapped with the same features and so they are treated as ‘one’ their entire lives, when they are actually two distinct individuals. Ask a mother of twins and she will confirm that when one child wakes up, the other child feels sleepy. When one child is active, the other child wants food. And so it is a roller coaster ride because one or the other always needs help, attention and support.
Some simple tips for parents with multiple children:
- Prepare for life after birth as soon as you know that you will be giving birth to multiple children. Think of how you can get extra help. Mothers please don’t try to do it on your own, it may be possible, but in the long run you will break down.
- Try not to buy everything similar for the kids. Learn to notice the individuality of each baby and let that blossom. Yes, they are growing up together so each child will want what the other has, so learn when to give in and when not to give in.
- They will fight for everything and they will team up against you! Yes expect these extremes, so try and have slightly separate schedules for your children so that you can give both your children an equal amount of attention. If this is not possible, then try and give both your children equal attention during particular activities/every day rituals or you will end up always giving maximum attention to the demanding twin.
- Yes, one child is always dominant and one child is submissive. So early on, identify which child has which trait and match your parenting to their temperament.
- Give your self at least 20 minutes a day where you can unwind alone. It may appear to seem impossible in your mind but you need to plan it and you will achieve it.
- No amount of reading will prepare you to be a parent of twins because the secret is ‘temperament’ and it all depends on the temperament of your twins. So learn to recognize and adapt to it right from birth. Remember when parents ‘tamper with temperament’ it leads to ‘tantrums’.
Turn the word twins into an acronym and you will be able to bring some sense into the chaos called ‘twin parenting.’
T– TERRIFIC NOT TERRIBLE
Once the shock of knowing that you are having twins wears off, you will soon realize the benefits. You have completed your family in one shot. Both your children will grow up together, both will have a sibling and friend and you will soon be free to pursue your dreams as they will both grow up and become independent in no time. Yes it means double the cost and responsibility, so plan as soon as you get the news but stop feeling terrible about it.
W– WIN-WIN FOR ALL
When faced with a choice or a dilemma, choose the option in which everyone comes out a winner. To do that you may have to be firm sometimes but it works.
Treat each twin as in individual or you risk your twins having emotional issues. So try to not to have favorites and train yourself to think as per the situation. If each twin needs a separate schedule, then do that. If both children are happy doing everything together, then encourage that. But don’t let either one of your children make the decisions for you, you need to make decisions based on the circumstance and situation at hand.
N– NO- AND STICK TO IT
Learn to say NO, and then stick to it. Bawling twins are a handful but once they realize that you are firm, they will adjust to your ways. Don’t be worried about being firm with
the naughty one. Children have to realize early on that good behaviour will be accepted and incorrect behaviour will not be accepted.
S- SHARE YOUR WORK
Handling twins is not a one person job, so plan in advance and thinking about who can help your raise your little ones. Could it be your husband, your mother, your sister, a nanny or a baby sitter? Choose wisely and ensure that you don’t divide the work but rather share the responsibilities. This means that you can’t allow for one person to be looking after one twin and for you to always be handling the other twin because this would breed sibling rivalry and mean more trouble for you.
In school or in a childcare setting, please guide the teacher on how to identify between the two, so that it is easier for the teacher and this in return will boost your children’s self esteem as the teacher can identify them individually. Ideally try not to keep twins together in the same class as they will always be compared to one another. But some twins prefer to be together, either way ensure that the teacher/other staff treat them as individuals and not as ‘mirror images’. And yes if there is no uniform, do dress them differently. Let each child’s identity flourish and work on ensuring that they are not just labelled ‘twins.’
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